Home > The Monday Musings Column > the art of time management

the art of time management

Time is a very odd commodity isn’t it; on the one had we measure it with great precision and yet in other ways we are astonishingly casual about it, but time has been on my mind a lot in one way or another over the last week, both in terms of managing it and wondering where it went. How do you manage your time?

On the one hand there is the question of time management, in my case I have been working for five different clients on various things in the last week and also needing to do those administrative things that need addressing as well as taking some time out to smell the roses. I was well trained earlier in my working life on prioritising, delegating and relegating (if it’s important and you have to do it get it done, if it’s important and someone else can do it pass it over and if it’s not important leave it until there’s time for it). Planning your day with to do lists helps, but there are always the things that get thrown at you that you have to at least consider. One trick is that you quickly dispose of these to the right pile; do, delegate or relegate for it is very easy to let yourself be diverted by something that bursts upon your day.

Breaking your day into compartments is easy enough given the alarm functions of our assorted mobile devices, so to allow, say, and hour to work on the PC and then leave it to do something else like make a few ‘phone calls is easy to set up and taking a break from the computer is a necessary thing in any case. Working your way through the day like this is a fairly precise use of time, regulated by the clock on your ‘phone or PC which is why I haven’t worn a watch for about 15 years or more; there’s no point. When I do wear one I have a selection to choose from, but I’ve never understood this vogue for huge multi-function watches, nor with the obsession about how accurate they are.

But if that is quite a regulated approach to time what about the other argument; that we are casual about time? We talk in terms of “in about half an hour” or “give me a day or so” or “I’ll see you about 12 then” and the classic “it’s about half past (or whatever)” all of which are very vague.  And then there is transport and travel time both of which can be a complete lottery despite being founded, in the former case at least, in a very precise timetable. What is that thing about time being relative?

The other aspect of time that has been on in the last few days has been the past, partly through writing about it, but also through one of my periodic contacts with a mate that I met back in 1970 when we were both eighteen. Trying to remember when things happened isn’t easy over that sort of time, and that is my other point about time, for memory is not a great recording device, but writing down what you were doing, where you were and what you were thinking can be very useful.

I started using a day book back in the 1980s when I was in IT and notes on what I did and, more importantly, why are invaluable when you need to look back. It’s why I always plan in a few moments to write each day; it’s like a time machine.

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